Decoding Design

In Helsinki, an urban chapel of silence

In Helsinki, an urban chapel of silence

Posting in Architecture

The Kamppi Chapel of Silence offers sanctuary from urban life.

On one side of a busy city square, the Kamppi Chapel of Silence offers sanctuary from urban life. Designed by Finnish architects K2S, the curved structure is meant to embrace visitors inside while gently buffering the outside. Sponsored partly by the Helsinki Parish Union and partly by the city of Helsinki, the chapel is more a public service space than a place of worship.

The Chapel is constructed and wrapped almost entirely with wood. Structural framing elements are CNC-cut and glue laminated and the exterior is custom spruce plank cladding. Alder planks treated with a mixture of tar and linseed oil make up the inner walls.

The chapel gets its ethereal light from the roof, which is set slightly apart from the walls to let light wash down into the chapel. The warmth of the materials and the craftsmanship shown in the construction create a calm environment for visitors to compose themselves after a day of activities or prepare themselves for the rest.

Since I work in an open plan office, I've been a little obsessed with anything that offers a little peace, quiet, and space. But bustling offices aren't the only places where we could use some respite. Modern urban environments are loud and stressful, even with everyone's head in their mobile devices.

The Chapel of Silence was completed in May of 2012.

Images courtesy K2S architects, photos copyright Tuomas Uusheimo

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Sun Kim

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor Sun Joo Kim is an architect and creative consultant based in Boston. Her projects include design and master planning of museums, public institutions, hospitals, and university buildings across the U.S. She holds a degree from Carnegie Mellon University and is a member of the U.S. Green Building Council. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure